What are the 7 essential principles of Leave No Trace?
As we enjoy the unspoilt beauty of Irish nature, we can sometimes forget that we are also major contributors to the destruction of it. Leave no Trace is a system that encourages us to be more aware of how to better take care of our land when enjoying the outdoors. The 7 core principles educate us on how to have a minimal impact on natural habitats and teach us to have respect and care for the environment.
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
Planning ahead means gathering information on the local facilities and habitat which you will be visiting and acquiring the skills necessary to be respectful while enjoying the land. It also means planning the duration of your stay so that you can adequately judge what facilities are necessary.
2. Be Considerate of Others
This means considering and respecting landowners and local communities and their livelihoods. It also means considering other nature lovers around you who may wish to enjoy the peace and quiet that nature provides so keep noise to a minimum and keep pets close and train them to be well behaved around others.
3. Respect Farm Animals and Wildlife
Although many purposefully seek out encounters with wildlife, we must remember that many species are threatened by human interference. For this reason, stick to observing from a distance, avoid sensitive times and habitats, and remember to never feed wild animals.
4. Travel and Camp on Durable Surface
Trampling causes damage to vegetation in most habitats which can have a profoundly negative impact on the ecosystem. We encourage you to stay on designated trails and avoid creating new ones, camp in designated campsites, and avoid particularly sensitive vegetation.
5. Leave What You Find
Leave what you find means leaving things in their natural habitat to leave it undisturbed. It also means preventing plants, soil, flora, and fauna from invading a foreign habitat wreaking havoc on the ecosystem. Clean off your boots and tyres to avoid spreading soil from one habitat to another!
6. Dispose of Waste Properly
When making use of recreational land, ensure to always clean up any rubbish or leftover food before leaving. No matter where you are, always dispose of human waste or your pet’s waste correctly by burying it away from other humans and away from water sources.
7. Minimize the Effects of Fire
Who doesn’t love the feeling of sitting by a campfire after setting up camp? We sure do! However, fires including campfires can cause serious and lasting damage to ecosystems. The main thing to take into account is how much impact is your fire having? Think about size, setup, wood source, and always fully extinguish your fire before leaving it unattended.